Bjorn Persson is an internationally recognised photographer living in Stockholm, Sweden. For years he has travelled around Africa in search of adventure and great images. His passion for this continent’s beautiful wildlife and people is reflected in his pictures. Several of them have been published in prestigious magazines and awarded in international photo competitions.
He also write articles for some of the leading wildlife and travel publications, and his work has been displayed on various galleries around the world selling up to €25,000. Besides photography, Bjorn also has a great deal of commitment to the threatened species situation. His passion was raised when he was trained in field care and worked with anti-poaching in South Africa. That’s when he discovered in what a critical state the African wildlife is in. In an attempt to help saving the threatened animals, his main ambition with his photography has always been to raise money towards African wildlife conservation. But instead of creating despair, Bjorn wants to pay tribute to the immense beauty of these creatures, and thereby inspire people to feel compassion and take action.
We were lucky enough to interview Bjorn and asked him about the upcoming release of his photography book ‘The Real Owners of the Planet’:
Q: How did you get into photography?
A: I have photographed my entire life. It’s always been my big passion. A few years ago I took the big step and left a well-paid job in advertising to follow my dream. I don’t regret it a second. Being able to work with what you love is more rewarding than anything.
Q: How do you distinguish between ‘normal’ photography and conservation photography?
A: Ordinary photography is just about documenting a certain moment or place, or to create something artistic without further purpose. I think conservation photography needs to have a message that makes you reflect. But it doesn’t necessarily have to show the negative side or create a reaction by fear. We have already seen too many horrific pictures or bleeding, dehorned rhinos or melting glaciers. People tend to just push these images away, and they only leave you with is a feeling of despair. On the contrary, my belief is that conservation photography should do the opposite. By showing the beauty of the planet, I think you create a much stronger desire and inspiration to care and act.
Q: When taking a photo, do you deliberately think about making it a ‘conservation photograph’ before you take it?
A: Never. I work 100% with my gut feeling. I never analyse or plan an image. I just go for the moments and compositions that I know will end up being a beautiful photo with the power to touch people.
Q: If you could go anywhere on assignment, where would you go? What issue is driving you to act?
A: It’s a paradox. I would love to go the most remote, untouched places in the world and to reveal their beauty. On the other hand, I want them remain unknown to the public eye. Sometimes the photographs you don’t take are the most important ones. Keeping certain places inaccessible is the best way to protect them.
Q: If your photography could convey one message, what would it be?
A: “Beauty will save the world” – Fyodor Dostojevskij.
Q: Are there any of your peer Photographers that you admire and what is it about their photography that inspires you?
A: I rather look at the old masters and try to get inspiration from completely different sources. I love the work of Herb Ritts for instance. The wildlife photography society is a very closed world. Everyone tends to do similar work and style, because they look too much at each other. The same goes for all creative work. You can’t create something unique if you only follow what others do.
Q: ‘The Storm’ image is our favourite. What is the story behind this photo and why is it important to you?
A: I was caught in a sand storm in Etosha National Park, Namibia. I could hardly see my own feet in front of me. But suddenly these elephants appeared from nowhere through the dust clouds. To me this image has a very strong symbolism reflecting their current status and situation. Are they coming out from the blinding storm, or are they disappearing like ghosts?
Q: Your book, ‘The Real Owners of the Planet’ is due to be released in April. Tell us more about it and how we can get hold of a copy.
A: Basically ‘The Real Owners of the Planet’ is the summary of my life time work. The idea is to show and tell the story of how long these beautiful creatures have roamed the planet, compared to our short yet very destructive existence as a species. The rhino for example, is over 50 million years old, and the modern human only about 190,000 years. But in only the last 20 years we have managed to bring them to the brink of extinction. The Real Owners of the Planet is about giving the animals a voice and create the necessary inspiration for people to care and react. Just because we have a more advanced brain, doesn’t give us the permission to do what we want with our environment and fellow inhabitants. It’s actually more of a philosophical book than a pure wildlife photography book. If you are interested in buying it, please go to my website. Hopefully it will be in a bookstore near you sometime later this year.
Q: Do you have any future projects in the pipeline?
A: The plan is to do a follow up of ‘The Real Owners of the Planet – part 2’. My next project is Asia. The ambition is to cover all hemispheres. It’s a lifetime project.
Q: You do a few photo tours yearly. When and where will your next one be?
A: I will do a snow leopard photography tour to Ladakh in India next year. Further information about will be on my website and social media shortly.
To purchase Bjorn’s book ‘The Real Owners of the Planet’ or see more of his stunning images, visit his website:
or follow him on social media: